The Highway Department recently closed the bridge on NE 188th St near New Hope Camp. Keep reading to learn about how County bridge replacement works, and what's going on with New Hope Bridge.
Bridge Replacement Process
The Missouri Department of Transportation inspects bridges throughout the state every two years. MoDOT rates the bridges on a variety of factors and determines the status of each bridge. When an inspection shows that a bridge is in critical condition, MoDOT requires that a bridge be closed. Sometimes, MoDOT determines one lane should close in order to limit traffic.
Counties rely on federal funding for bridge replacements. When a bridge is closed, the County must wait until funding levels are high enough to cover the replacement. The disbursement of federal funds is based, in part, on bridge conditions. As Clay County prioritizes superior road and bridge conditions, federal funding is often comparatively low.
As federal funding can be inconsistent year to year, it is unfeasible to predict a timeline for replacement. When funds are available, the Highway Department notifies MoDOT. MoDOT verifies that funds are sufficient and passes the request to the Federal Highway Administration. Upon FHWA approval, the County signs a contract with MoDOT for bridge replacement.
Next, Clay County contracts with a pre-qualified engineering firm for bridge design. The design process, which includes multiple stages of approval and a variety of clearances and permits from federal entities, can take 12-18 months. When the bridge design is completed and approved by MoDOT and FWHA, the County bids the project to pre-approved construction firms. MoDOT and FWHA must approve the contract before construction begins.
Bridge construction can take 3-6 months. The engineering firm inspects construction on a daily basis. After construction, MoDOT must inspect and approve the bridge before it is opened to traffic.
Most county bridges are closed for a minimum of 3-5 years before they are replaced.
NE 188th Street Bridge (New Hope)
A 2016 MoDOT inspection required the bridge on NE 188th St due to become one-lane only. The closed lane had failing support structures and two holes, which were covered with metal plates as a safety precaution. The open lane was deemed safe for a limited amount of weight, and appropriate signs were placed at that time.
This bridge has been approved by MoDOT and FHWA for replacement. It is currently in the design phase.
During a 2-26-19 routine staff inspection, it was discovered that not only did a new hole in the open lane develop, but the large metal plate covering a previously discovered hole had been unbolted and stolen from the bridge as well. The Highway Department has requested an emergency inspection by MoDOT to determine if the new hole can be temporarily repaired for safe use until the bridge can be replaced. An update will be provided as soon as a response is received from MoDOT.